Here's a video done by one of my husband's company's favorite UI designers. It took many months to create this video, but it shows where we are headed with Augmented Reality.
Permit me to kvell. In Yiddish that means to gush over great things, things you are proud of. So, here I am kvelling.
My students really succeeded this year in making some incredible board games that teach about the carbon cycle. They worked with professional board game designers, energy experts in the industry, and Environmental Studies students as they developed, tested and implemented their games over a four-month period. They were aided, in part, by the Innovation in the Classroom grant awarded to us from the California Education Research Association. The grant helped to purchase a new Makerbot 3D printer, filament for the printer, and professional printing services.
What you see here are the results of a well-honed project, deeply steeped in real world applications of game design, 3D modeling and printing, 2D design, and project management. Most students were surprised at how long it took to develop a game and really do it right, complete with many iterations and rounds of play testing. They also were appreciative that whatever skills they learn in board game creation, can be transferred to video game creation.
Most video game industry experts I consulted with say that necessary skills for video game creation include a strong understanding of game mechanics, game play, and knowledge of how to write a game design document, all skills that students learned as they developed their board games. They used Autodesk Maya, Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, google drive and www.thegamecrafter.com to execute their games and I'm blown away by the finished products! They've now got a strong project that they can use in their portfolios as they move forward into the professional fields of their choice.
Check out the photo gallery below to see our entire process from beginning to end.
Students spent a huge amount of time this year game testing, critiquing, and adjusting their prototypes to make sure that the game play was engaging and easy to understand. They also learned about color pallets, branding, and writing rulesets that are easy to follow.
Next year, we will have the honor of marketing and selling these board games across the country to science teachers everywhere. Know someone who might be interested? Let me know and we'll contact them when we are ready to bring these to market!
Or maybe you are teacher who wants a game developed to teach particular content? Comment below and we'll see if we can collaborate!
I am so grateful to be able to do these sorts of high level projects with my students at New Tech High. They are amazing designers and learners and I enjoyed every minute of this project with them!
It's the end of the school year and one of my children says that, now that the big test is over for his AP class, that they will be practicing Movie Based Learning. I loved hearing this and had to just laugh out loud. There are more types of learning these days than I can even keep track of. Problem Based Learning, Project Based Learning, Team Based Learning, and now, Challenge Based Learning.
After previewing this website, I have come to the conclusion that Challenge Based Learning is just Project Based Learning (PBL) with an emphasis on social action. This has been the route I have been wanting to take at my PBL school recently and I'm excited to see the basics of how to do this on this website. No matter what you call it, all of these X-Based Learning programs are quite wonderful. Yes! Learning should be "based" on real world problems so that the learning is meaningful and therefore lasting.
I do see that these challenge based projects work because, at the heart of them is authenticity. I believe that all students, no matter what age, want to do real and important work. And even if they are young and practicing their skills, they can and should be expected to contribute to the world in positive ways. And in the process, teachers can guide students to make sure that basic skills are covered while the project is being completed.
As a Digital Media teacher and a total fangirl of Adobe, I often get so excited to introduce my students to Adobe, but feel that this amazing introduction fizzles when students move out of my introduction class and no longer use the tools in other classes. Some move on to upper level classes, but many do not. What is the point of gaining skills and competencies that will soon be forgotten due to disuse? How do we get those creative skills to translate into other classes more seamlessly so students can continue to grow on their path toward digital citizenship? How do we allow for a more integrated approach to digital creative learning for students while still providing experience with high end "grown up" software that prepares students with 21st Century Skills?
In a conversation with one of the Principal Product Managers at Adobe, Tom Nguyen, we talked a lot about what is currently happening in my Digital Media class at New Tech High. He asked all the great "empathy" questions to get a better understanding of his end-users' pains and likes. I answered from the teacher's perspective, but in reality, I know it's so much more powerful to get the students to give their input and thoughts about becoming new Adobe Creative Cloud users.
Based on our conversation, my understanding of Tom's inquiry question is in alignment with my own questions as a Digital Media teacher. "How do we get Adobe tools into the hands of students so that they can continue to deepen their creative skills and their understanding of core concepts in all other curriculum? How do we eliminate the obstacles that currently exist in getting students access to Adobe software? What are essentials and what are the extra fun things needed in order to draw students in?
So, I propose that we bring in the students and open up the conversation. I've invited my students to comment on this blog post and answer a few of the questions I've got for them. And if you are not one of my Digital Media students but have something to say, you are welcome to join in on the conversation! Please leave your comments!
If we want to move ahead and truly prepare our students for the future, we need to provide access to the tools needed to succeed, and not just in an isolated computer lab. What do YOU think? How can we get there? What would you like to see in the education world? What would be ideal? Where can we integrate Adobe knowledge with other Common Core and STEM knowledge?
In the process of collecting data about my action research paper entitled The Effect of Digital Tools on Reading Comprehension, Focus and Engagement, I found it fascinating to gather both quantitative and qualitative data for my inquiry. I asked students to rate themselves 0-100 in their level of engagement before and after reading and answer comprehension questions in a traditional format and also in an interactive digital format.
If I were to solely look at the change of engagement in numbers with both sessions, I might come to the conclusion that engagement went down using the digital format vs. the more traditional approach which would be the exact opposite of what I had hypothesized. However, since I triangulated the data by also taking notes in an observation log as well as asking the students to fill out an open-ended question survey, I found that sometimes numbers tell you something incomplete and that narratives can help fill the gap of missing information.
Why is this important? We often assess our students based on assigning numbers. In fact, daily we do this as teachers. But numbers don't give the whole picture, as in my case. When I told the students about the quantitative results, that their engagement numbers went down when we used the interactive digital tool and asked why they thought that happened, especially since my observation log told a different story, they responded with some very interesting additional information. One student said it best, "It's not that the digital tool wasn't fun or engaging, it's just that at that point, the plot in the book became a bit flat and started to get boring."
So, engagement went down because the plot flattened, not because of any use or non-use of a teaching tool. However, the act of recording the level of engagement lead me to a clearer picture of how my students were engaging with the material. And this is key. A teacher needs to know where their students stand and quantitative data was key in helping me understand what was happening. However, explaining that data, or understanding that data is a whole other animal and required a rounder picture through the use of qualitative data.
Thus, if we only assess students quantitatively, we are missing huge portions of the whole picture. Grades are helpful, but are only a portion of feedback that students and teachers can draw upon to better learn and teach. We need to also be offering narrative feedback to our students, observational data that should be shared with students along with their grades. It is not enough to simply know that you are a D, C, B, or A student, but also know where you can improve, what patterns you are showing in your learning, and what observations led to those conclusions.
I know very few schools that offer narratives, although there are some, but do they offer them in conjunction with quantitative grades as well? And do those narratives really give the kind of feedback that students can use to improve their learning? I would like to see a hybrid of grading happening in school, so that we get a broader picture of each student, a more whole and round view of their education, their abilities, their skill levels and their learning processes.
What I learned from a wonderful keynote speech by John Seeley Brown
In the process of watching this keynote speech, the concept of peer-based learning or learning cohorts really spoke to me. The speaker said that the key factor that determines college success has nothing to do with high school grades, ACT or SAT scores, high school ranking or any of the typical measures we think of. The most influential variable in success in college is whether or not the student participates in study groups.
He went on to talk about a group of 5 kids from Maui. One of the 14-year-old boys decided that he was going to be a world champion in surfing. No one from Maui had every climbed the ranks of the surfing world. This young boy decided he would do it. He gathered his buddies around and that created what Brown calls "Joint Collective Agency" or a "Questioning Disposition." This mean that they would watch each other surf, they would watch a ton of videos of those who were at their peak performance, they would go out and try new moves, give each other feedback, study related sports such as skiing, dirt biking, sailing and many other ways to move the body through the air and water. They studied the shapes of boards, they looked for new moves in skateboarding, ski boarding, you name it. And they supported each other in a cohort of learning.
So, that one determined boy grew up and realized his dream of becoming the first world champion coming out of Maui. But guess what? Those other boys also grew up to become world class champions as well.
This hit me particularly hard as I have a son of 16 years old who is hoping to one day soon play professional tennis. Tennis can be one of the most isolating sports out there. It's just you against your opponent across the net. But what if he could find himself a learning cohort, a group of high level players that he could study with?
This speaks so closely to my heart. It is like my children's nursery school teacher always says, "Together, We're Better."
I work hard to create a community of learning in the classroom, where we ALL make each other better simply by pursuing a craft and body of knowledge and skills together. In my practices with putting together learning groups for projects, often I build a team that I think will be balanced with different leadership styles, personalities and abilities. However, I wonder if instead, I ought to be building groups based more around interest than around the concept of balance. The only way you can truly get a cohort of like minds, is to let those like minds gravitate towards each other and toward the subject matter they are most interested in. I am going to continue to experiment with how to create groups that serve everyone in my classroom, that allow for that "Questioning Disposition" due to shared interest.
Lisa Gottfried is a CTE teacher with 20 years experience as CEO of her own Video and Motion Graphics Production house. She currently teaches Intro to Digital Media, Video Production and Game/3D Design. She loves her job and her students!